Training perioperative nurses in their future work environment

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By Diane Wild

The operating room is a fast-paced and highly technical environment, and Fraser Health, like health care organizations across the country, is facing the challenge of hiring trained surgical nurses.

To support current registered nurses and licensed practical nurses obtain this specialty training, the health authority in British Columbia has begun to offer an in-house program based on the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Periop 101™, in addition to off-site programs at the B.C. Institute of Technology and Grand Prairie Regional College.

The Periop 101 program was developed by expert surgical nurses and is used by more than 2,500 facilities across Canada and the United States. In November, Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster and Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody became the first Fraser Health sites to implement the new in-house training.

“I like how Periop 101 combines theory with hands-on training right in the OR theatres that we will call home one day,” said Diana Thorogood, who is part of the first cohort of students. “It’s great that we have the opportunity to learn and develop skills from our future colleagues.”

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The 10-month training combines a standardized, evidence-based online curriculum with hands-on skills labs, operating room experiences and clinical practicums to prepare nurses to work in the operating room. Students will take approximately six months to complete the 27 modules, immediately followed by about four months of orientation in the work environment.

“It has been a steep learning curve due to the specialty nature of the job, but we are 100 per cent supported along the way,” says student Sara Boychuk. “The staff have been so gracious in accepting us as their own and providing hands on mentorship. The balance between in-class course work and hands-on preceptorship has provided a structure to solidify our knowledge in a more meaningful way and I feel will set us up for success in the workplace.”

Jie Xu and Maria Ingram were operating room nurses at Royal Columbian Hospital prior to taking on clinical nurse educator roles for Periop 101. They began by reviewing the AORN Periop 101 course curriculum to obtain their administrator certificates, then developed lesson plans for each day within the core curriculum. They also completed the AORN Preceptor Certificate Program and created handbooks for preceptors.

“It is a different environment behind the elusive double doors of the operating room,” said Ingram. “It has been a pleasure to watch the students’ progress. They have accomplished so much in such a short period of time and should be very proud of themselves.”

The second phase of the implementation is planned for April 2018 at a total of four sites: Royal Columbian, Eagle Ridge and Surrey Memorial Hospitals, and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey.

Diane Wild is a Senior Communications Consultant at Fraser Health.